Interest in healthcare as a career has grown at Padua Academy, and a group of students there has been recognized by a statewide organization dedicated to fostering their desire to work in the profession.
Several girls won awards from HOSA Fusion in different categories. HOSA is a national student organization that provides “a unique program of leadership development, motivation, and recognition exclusively for secondary, postsecondary, collegiate and adult students enrolled in health science education,” according to its website.
The Fusion awards included projects in rare disease awareness, rare disease research, senior-to-senior communication, and public-service announcements for safe driving. Olivia Stankewicz, a senior, said she participated in the rare disease awareness. Her group tried different approaches to this, including a dress-down day, speakers and candy.
“We tried to make events that were all COVID-friendly. We were trying to raise awareness within the community of different rare diseases,” she said.
Her classmate, Mackenzie Sobczyk, worked with the senior-to-senior project.
“We are planning to partner with a long-term senior care facility and try to promote multigenerational interactions,” she said. “Exercise videos and valentines cards that we can make, stuff for them to do. With corona and everything, they can’t have visitors, so it’s really important for them to have things to do.”
Social interactions will help keep the senior citizens positive and give them something to look forward to, she added.
A freshman, Aanya Yatavelli, worked on the PSA for safe driving. Her group made a video that had to be done in a way to keep the attention of her peers. It was published on Instagram.
“It’s a 30-second PSA that informs teens how to drive safely, and eight things to avoid while driving,” she said.
Sobczyk said there is interest in a lot of different healthcare-related fields at Padua. She said the school does a good job of offering something that large groups of students will appreciate.
“We have a good intro to engineering program, a good business program, things to do for healthcare. There’s a lot of different interests here, but there’s things for everyone,” she said.
Sobczyk also said Padua has a class in biomedicine and another in sports medicine, and a bunch of science electives.
Lisa Kowalski, the club’s moderator and Padua’s engineering department chairwoman, brought the HOSA chapter to the school. She was contacted by the statewide organization and asked if Padua would be interested in hosting a chapter.
“We’re the first nonpublic school to do this,” she said. Thirty-nine students are members.
In a normal year, the winners of the statewide awards would be traveling to the national competition, she said. The 2022 event is scheduled for Nashville, Tenn., and she hopes Padua is represented there.
Some of the seniors will not be around for that, but they are ready to get started on the road to careers in health care. Sobczyk will be studying nursing at the University of Delaware. She said the COVID-19 pandemic has not been a deterrent.
“I think that actually kind of motivates me a little more because you see what these people are doing. The world’s a pretty scary place right now, but they’re making it run as smoothly as possible. I think that’s something really cool and brave of them to do. I definitely could see myself doing that one day,” she said.
Stankewicz, who has not decided what school she will attend next year, wants to be a physician’s assistant. She has participated in the medical shadowing program at Padua, accompanying a general surgeon and a cardiac surgeon at ChristianaCare. She was able to observe a quadruple bypass.
“I just wanted to help people, and I think healthcare is a great way to do that, and reach a lot of people who need help,” she said.
Their classmate, Minjie Paark, said she’s dreamt of being a dentist for a long time. The HOSA program and Padua’s curriculum has offered her access to information and other students who have the same vision as her.
“I’m really excited about HOSA because it’s the first time I’ve had a club in my school just about health professions,” she said.
In addition to Sobczyk, Stankewicz, Yatavelli and Paark, the other students who were part of the HOSA Fusion award-winning projects were Rachel Thomas, Maura Mullen, Maddy Voss, Joelle Lenick, Olivia Sheetz, Victoria Corbo, Madeline Dickerson, Amy Lauderbaugh, Hannah Ellett, Reina Doten, Julianna Dellicompagni and Sarah Ciocco.